Making the best out of online learning The Daily Free Press – Daily Free Press

For students returning to Boston University, all classes and social events this Fall will be mostly, if not entirely, virtual. The promise of in-person classes has all but vanished, save for a couple of hybrid-based course modules.

The consensus for this semester is that it will suck. Based on our trial run earlier this year, its a more than reasonable hypothesis. But professors have been working hard to adapt their curriculum and classrooms to the new environment on Zoom.

So, how can we as students make the most of an otherwise isolating and strenuous experience?

There are some aspects of online classes that actually make learning easier for students. Many professors will provide recordings of their lectures for students to access at will. This means students can learn concepts at their own pace, and missing a piece of a professors explanation is easily amendable.

Students may also find that they have more time in the day compared to living on campus and attending classes in person. Online learning reduces commuting time, which means theres more time to do homework, try out a new recipe or work out.

When everything is on your computer, you dont have to travel far or plan around public transportation schedules or the time it takes to walk from East to West campus. Barring faulty wifi or other technological hiccups, classes and back-to-back meetings should be much more convenient in an online format.

Online learning can also help reduce carbon footprint and personal waste. Not only will assignment submissions be mostly online rather than printed, but notes and textbooks can also be electronic and more easily accessible, consolidated and organized.

Despite these advantages, there remain several inevitable challenges of online learning. One of the hardest obstacles to overcome, especially for incoming freshmen, will be the social component of academics: effectively participating in online classes and finding classmates to engage with.

Though online learning arguably makes an already taxing transition more stressful, class participation can actually be made less so.

In any online lecture, students can join the discussion or ask questions by messaging in the chat or speaking out without the physical weight of all eyes on them. Participating can become easier for students who are normally quiet in the classroom, and in fact, they are enabled by this new format to elevate their learning and engage with their classmates on a level they otherwise wouldnt have.

Without being able to meet classmates face-to-face, the chance of collaboration may seem out of reach. However, students are not limited to studying independently as study groups are still possible through Zoom and class group chats, and sometimes professors will even create class Slack channels. All of these options provide a forum for classmates to discuss material and take their learning into their own hands.

But aside from the academic challenges that come with these shifts, online classes can also pose significant challenges to students mental health. For this reason, its crucial to set time aside for self care. It can be incredibly stressful and tiring to continually social distance and quarantine, stare day in and day out at a screen and all the while continue to maintain strong academic performance.

This year more than ever, its vital that students leave time for breaks in their schedule, picking up new hobbies, connecting with their loved ones and safely venturing outdoors. Providing structure to each day prevents online learning from slipping into monotony and ensures a healthy lifestyle moving forward.

In that same vein, choosing a designated study space thats not in bed can help students be present and get in the headspace for learning. And on sunny days, soaking up a little vitamin D outside while studying beats a cramped seat in a lecture hall any day.

While there are many real challenges, and some students may be put at a greater disadvantage than others due to the restraints of online learning and living situations, there remain several ways to make the most of the upcoming semester.

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Making the best out of online learning The Daily Free Press - Daily Free Press

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